Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Disobedient Teaching - reflections on book

While away, catching up with my aged parents, I read the book ‘Disobedient teaching’ by Welby Ings. I read the book while awaiting my connecting flight from Melbourne to Singapore. The long flight across, provided me with some reflecting time. Over the last few days, I dipped in and out of the book, to better savour the many messages, woven through the narrative.

I have had the privilege of listening to several presentations provided by Welby over the years. Most have been whilst at AkoAotearoa Academy symposiums, a gathering of tertiary educators who have been recognised through an excellence in tertiary teaching award. Welby was the first winner of the Prime Ministers Supreme award in 2002. Welby’s presentations are always looked forward to, as he is a storyteller par excellence. He never fails to connect to my emotions as he talks about a topic, usually around the need to be a teacher, who is true to one’s self.

In 2007, when I attended at the first symposium, I was rather overwhelmed to be in such illustrious company. In hindsight, I was afflicted strongly by ‘the imposter’ syndrome. I was wondering where I fitted in as almost all the other academy members were university professors. Welby encouraged me with his gentle welcome, to be myself. In particular, he was a good listener and empathised with new members to the academy.

I have been looking forward to reading Welby’s book and needed to do the book justice by setting outside some dedicated time to read it. The book is written in a very accessible style, filled with stories to illustrate the recommendations made through the book. There are also techniques sprinkled through the book, of how to teach creatively, bravely and disobediently.The book is a clarion call to educators - to not be bowed by pressures from administrators, politicians and ministries. Instead to hold to the principles of good teaching and to uphold the prime objectives of being teachers. In short, to ensure learners' needs are advanced and the learners' voices are not subsumed.

I think all teachers who are any good, who care for their students and want to help them learn, should read this book. Teaching is, and always will be, about relationships. Not about how to ensure students only ‘pass a test’ but to help students learn more about themselves. How to help learners go about learning and becoming who they want to become.

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